Editing notes and rests

    Overview

    After you have entered notes into your score, you may wish to change something about them - pitch, duration, time position, etc. MuseScore provides a number of commands for this purpose. Many of the most powerful commands are only available after you leave note input mode and return to normal mode, but there are a number of quick edits possible while still in note input mode.

    Making changes in note input mode

    Immediately after entering a note or rest, it is selected, and there are a handful of commands that operate on the selected note or rest while in note input mode. These commands also work if you use the cursor keys to navigate to a previously-entered note or rest.

    Changing duration in note input mode

    There are two commands that alter the duration of an existing note or rest while in note input mode:

    • Shift+W increases the duration
    • Shift+Q decreases the duration

    Both commands will first add or remove a dot if appropriate, then will move to the next larger or smaller note value. So for instance, pressing Shift+W on a quarter note changes it into a dotted quarter, and pressing Shift+W again changes it to a half note.

    Changing pitch in note input mode

    The commands for changing the pitch of a selected note while in note input mode are:

    • - move pitch up a semitone (spells with sharps)
    • - move pitch down a semitone (spells with flats)
    • Alt+Shift+ - move pitch up a step diatonically
    • Alt+Shift+ - move pitch down a step diatonically
    • Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+) - move pitch up an octave
    • Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+) - move pitch down an octave

    Replacing notes and rests in note input mode

    Most note input in MuseScore is in what a word processor might call "replace" or "overwrite" mode. This means that if you wish to replace a note with a different one, you don't need to delete the old note first—just enter the new one directly, and it automatically overwrites what was there before.

    Note: sometimes you may wish to add a new note and move some of the subsequent notes later to make room. In MuseScore, this is done by moving the subsequent notes directly using cut and paste.

    Deleting notes in note input mode

    To delete a note and replace it with a rest, simply press Del.

    Note: if you instead wish to move subsequent notes earlier to take the place of the deleted note, there is no need to first delete the original note - simply move the subsequent notes directly using cut and paste.

    Moving notes in note input mode

    Although for the most part, moving notes to a different time position is done in normal mode, there is one pair of commands that can be used to change the time position of a note or rest in certain cases while in note input. If you have two notes or rests of the same duration and you wish to exchange them while in note input mode, you can use Shift+ or Shift+ to exchange a note or rest with its neighbor of the same duration.

    Making changes in normal mode

    Most changes one might want to make to notes and rests already entered are more easily performed in normal mode—the mode you are in when you leave note input or any other mode.

    Except where noted, the methods described below work on either a single selected note or rest, a list selection consisting of multiple notes or rests, or entire range selections. See the page on selections for more information.

    Changing duration in normal mode

    Changing selected notes to a specific note value

    To change the duration of one or more selected notes in normal mode to a specific note value, simply click the appropriate duration icon or use the keyboard shortcuts 19.

    Increasing or decreasing the duration of a selected note

    To increase the duration of a selected note, you can use the Shift+W command as described above. This adds an augmentation dot if one is not already present, or changes to the next longer note value if the note is already dotted. For example, an eighth note will be changed into a quarter note, and a dotted quarter will be changed into a half note. You can also use W to double the duration, thus changing an eighth note into a quarter note directly, or a dotted eighth into a dotted quarter.

    The commands Shift+Q and Q to perform the opposite operation, decreasing or halving the duration in the same way.

    All of these commands work on only a single selected note.

    Doubling or halving all note values in a range selection

    If you have entered a passage using eighths and sixteenths but wish to double the durations of all notes and rests—thus doubling the duration of the passage itself—see the section on the paste half/double duration commands.

    Changing pitch in normal mode

    The same commands that work to change pitch in note input also function in normal mode, including single, list, and range selections. These commands are:

    • - move pitch up a semitone (spells with sharps)
    • - move pitch down a semitone (spells with flats)
    • Alt+Shift+ - move pitch up a step diatonically
    • Alt+Shift+ - move pitch down a step diatonically
    • Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+) - move pitch up an octave
    • Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+) - move pitch down an octave

    In addition, when in normal mode, the accidental buttons on the Note input toolbar and corresponding keyboard shortcuts will toggle (add or remove) accidentals on any selected notes, thus potentially changing their pitch. The Accidentals palette can also be used to add accidentals to selected notes.

    Deleting notes and rests in normal mode

    To delete a note and replace it with a rest, simply press Del.

    If multiple notes are selected as a list, Del replaces them each by rests individually.

    If you select a range, Del replaces the entire passage with the correct rests according to the meter.

    Rests cannot normally be deleted, as removing them would leave a measure with fewer beats than it should have. However, see the remove selected range command below for information on how to do this when required. Also, rests in voices 2–4 can be deleted without removing time from a measure.

    Removing notes and rests and their associated time

    To completely remove selected notes or rests—thus leaving the piece with fewer measures if entire measures are selected, or fewer beats within the measure if a partial measure is selected—use ToolsRemove selected range or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Del (Mac: Cmd+Del).

    Adding ties in normal mode

    Ties can be added in normal mode, but unlike in note input mode where the tie command automatically adds a note and creates a tie, in normal mode, both notes must already exist.

    To add a tie in normal mode:

    1. Select a note that you wish to tie to the next note of the same pitch
    2. Click the tie button or use the shortcut T

    This works even if the next note of the same pitch is in a different voice.

    If you select multiple notes, MuseScore will start a tie at each of them. You can use the technique to tie entire chords at once.

    This technique also allows you to tie notes that are not adjacent, such as to show an arpeggiate-and-hold pattern on piano.

    Changing voice in normal mode

    A note entered into a given voice may be moved into another voice if this is musically possible, or the contents of two voices may be exchanged.

    Moving selected notes into another voice

    To move a selection of one or more notes into another voice, either press one of the voice buttons on the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Alt+14 (Mac: Cmd+Option+14). Notes will be moved to the extent it is possible without compromising the current content of the destination voice.

    A note can be moved into another voice if there is currently silence (rests, or nothing at all) in the destination voice at that time position for the duration of the note to be moved. In that case, the note will simply be moved to the new voice.

    A note can also be moved into another voice if there is already a note or chord of the same duration starting at that time position. In that case, the note will be combined with the existing note or chord.

    Exchanging the contents of two voices

    MuseScore can also exchange the contents of any pair of voices. These commands work only on full measures (or multiple measures), not on individual notes.

    To exchange the contents of any two voices, use the corresponding command in ToolsVoices:

    • Exchange voice 1-2
    • Exchange voice 1-3
    • Exchange voice 1-4
    • Exchange voice 2-3
    • Exchange voice 2-4
    • Exchange voice 3-4

    See also

    Entering notes and rests